After a leisurely breakfast with my fellow crewmates and some emotional goodbyes it was time for them to join their boats and get ready to leave Derry. With only 2 weeks to go until race finish the anticipation of these last two short races is palpable. Mem and I stood on the dock as the boats were announced and our boat song played. I don't mind saying I had a tear in my eye - not so much wanting to be on there but because they all mean so much to me and I want them to be safe. Funny old thing this crew malarkey!
Once they had paraded up and down the river they motored down to the start point at Greencastle which is just over the Irish border. The SWAGS had hired a car so we jumped in Starsky and Hutch style to race down the coast to catch up with them, first at a narrowing of the river and then at Greencastle. The whole of Greencastle had turned out for the start with a real carnival atmosphere going on (and plenty of Guinness!) It was a perfect day for the start, with bright sunshine and light winds. The boats jockeyed for position on the start line and then the gun went and they were off! They beat up wind up towards the crowds and then rounded the mark and it was spinnakers flying for a downwind stint past us and out in to the open sea. The wind had died slightly bt this time so it wasn't massively fast but it did give us the opportunity to wave and cheer to the team and wave the famous yellow boxing kangaroo flag. GB waved back. Next time I see them it will be in London. They of course have a short stop in Den Helder which they will enjoy but I know they are all anxious to get home. The boat had a reasonable start with us all aware we need to keep Garmin within our sights (6 points behind us) for the 3rd place podium finish in London. This race will be tight with only 720 miles to manoeuvre within, so no mistakes is the name of the game. It will be a close and nail-biting finish with 24 points still up for grabs.
It was a marvellous privilege to be part of the Derry stopover and I shall definitely be back, not only for Clipper but to see all the bits I missed - Giant's Causeway, Bushmills etc. and to see some more of the stunning scenery and coastline. I've loved you Derry. Take care and see you soon!